President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, held a speech at the third international Arctic Forum, in Salekhard. The first such forum was held in Moscow in September 2010, the second - in Arkhangelsk in 2011.
The main theme of the current forum is environmental security. The forum participants will discuss possible scenarios of climate change in the Arctic, the current level of pollution, the impact of its industrial development on indigenous peoples and a number of other issues.
Taking part in the third international Arctic forum will also be President of Finland Sauli Niinist, President of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and many others.
"Today more than ever, the Arctic needs particular care and attention. Russia, where the Far North regions make up almost a third of the country's territory, is conscious of its responsibility for preserving the Arctic's environmental stability," Putin said in his speech.
"Many of you here today know that we have adopted the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy. We are using it as the base for drafting our State Programme for the Russian Arctic's Social and Economic Development until 2020."
President Putin also underlined Russis intentions to clean up the Arctic, and said that the federal budget allocated 45 million US dollars to the cleanup.
"I also note that we plan to extend considerably the network of nature conservation areas in the Arctic region. These specially protected natural areas currently make up around 6% of the Russian Arctic, nearly 322,000 square kilometres. Our plan is to increase this area several-fold."
Putin also stressed that coperation is high on the Russian agenda: "I want to reaffirm today Russia's commitment to this declaration's principles, and also to our desire to do everything possible to make the Arctic in practice a territory of partnership, cooperation and dialogue between countries and between the public at the broadest level."